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 By Nicolas Anil

JDT back to full strength to face Felda United in MSL showdown

Victory against Felda United in the Malaysia Super League (MSL) top-of-the-table clash will virtually secure Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) a third consecutive league title, as both sides face-off at the Tun Abdul Razak stadium in Jengka on Wednesday night.

No team has ever gone unbeaten in an MSL season since its inception in 2004, and neither has any side reigned supreme for three straight seasons.

JDT have both possibilities in their own hands as they go up against Irfan Bakti's well drilled unit, who have lost only twice in the league this season. One of those came at Larkin Stadium when the Southern Tigers won 2-1 in March, and coach Mario Gomez has every intention of completing the double over his closet rivals.

"I will field our best starting line-up, and we have already trained on the artificial pitch at the Tun Abdul Razak Stadium to adapt to its conditions," said Gomez.

"This match will surely be a great fight, but we don't need to feel pressured, just consistent and focused throughout the match."

JDT's Juan Lucero and Safiq Rahim
Argentine import Juan Martin Lucero will join captain Safiq Rahim in JDT's starting lineup at Felda United.

That will mean the return of Argentine goal blazers Juan Martin Lucero and Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who were rested against PKNS FC in the Malaysia Cup at the weekend. The duo, who have accumulated 27 league goals between them, are expected to torment the Felda defence with their clever exchanges, pace and potency.

The two sides have met on 11 occasions since 2013, with JDT triumphant five times, Felda thrice, with the remaining three games drawn.

The Southern Tigers already have the Charity Shield and FA Cup title in the bag, and all roads seem to be leading towards a domestic treble.

One of the reasons Gomez fielded a largely second-string side in the Malaysia Cup was to give emphasis to the MSL.

JDT crashed out of the Cup competition after finishing bottom of Group C, following a 1-1 draw against PKNS last Saturday.

"Since the start of the season, I told Mario that winning the league will be another history for us, as we wanted to be the first club to win three titles in a row. I take full responsibility for JDT and JDT II exits in the Malaysia Cup," said the Crown Prince of Johor on the Johor Southern Tigers Facebook page.

With their ammunition loaded, a fiery contest is anticipated in Jengka on Wednesday night as JDT aim to cement their dominance on the domestic front.

Nicolas Anil is a former Malay Mail and Goal.com Malaysia editor/writer who appears on BFM Radio as a football analyst. Twitter: @nicolas_anil.

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